Gene Editing Unlikely For Designer Babies

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Publish Date:
August 4, 2017
Author(s):
  • Belluck, Pam
Source:
The New York Times
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Summary

Now that science is a big step closer to being able to fiddle with the genes of a human embryo, is it time to panic? Could embryo editing spiral out of control, allowing parents to custom-order a baby with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s imagination or Usain Bolt’s speed?

News that an international team of scientists in Oregon had successfully modified the DNA of human embryos has renewed apprehensions that babies will one day be “designed.” But there are good reasons to think that these fears are closer to science fiction than they are to science.

“Right now, we know nothing about genetic enhancement,” said Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford. “We’re never going to be able to say, honestly, ‘This embryo looks like a 1550 on the two-part SAT.’”

Dr. Greely noted that while scientists work to get human embryonic editing ready for clinical trials (currently illegal in the United States and many countries), alternate medical treatments for these diseases might be developed. They may be simpler and cheaper.

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